If there was any doubt about who the ace of the Red Sox staff is, Curt Schilling cleared it up: it’s Beckett’s team. Schill got the win in the box score, but it was the bats that did it on the field. Big Papi supplied some power with his second bomb of the series – and there happened to be runners on every base tonight. Everyone who got an at-bat in the game got at least one hit. Even Manny, after K’ing in his first four plate appearances, ripped a two-run double in the eighth to put this one away.
The bullpen looked like the old bullpen with Okie, Timlin and Papelbon each pitching one shutout inning. It was the starter that put the game in jeopardy early. Schill looked shaky in the first and second, giving up four runs before settling down. The velocity is down and the splitter isn’t splitting. If this team is going deep in the post-season, it is on the shoulders of Beckett.
I think everyone agrees Francona has done a masterful job of managing the team, keeping players sharp, resting guys to make sure they don’t hit the wall. But the past couple of weeks have not had many shining moments for Tito. Gagne has singlehandedly let the Yankees back in the race, and you have to look at the situations and how long he was in, and then question Francona. Over the past two days, Francona has pitched Papelbon in the ninth with a four run lead (Friday) and a five run lead (last night). Huh?
Today, the Sox have the chance to take 3-out-of-4 from a very tough Angels club. They would also go 26 games above .500 for the first time this season. And it is up to a man called Batshit. Tavarez has done whatever he’s been asked this season, and he’s given the team everything he’s got while always giving the fans a good show. Today, we look to him one more time to keep the team in the game and let the bats stay hot.
Wake gets the extra day off for a couple of reasons. Short term, he gets to humiliate the Devil Rays again Monday. Long term, it sets up the rotation so the big guns will face the Yankees. I like the forward thinking. Although I still think the lead will be close to 10 by the time the two teams square off. They’ve lost 3 of their last five and after one more with Detroit, they head to play the Angels, then to Detroit for 4 before the showdown. I think they’ll be limping noticeable by then.
But let’s focus on today. Go get ’em, Julian.